Orecchiette with Brown Butter, Broccoli, Pine Nuts, and Basil

Brown butter is butter that is cooked until it takes on an amber brown color and nutty flavor. There’s nothing to it, but you’ll be amazed at what this extra step does for a simple pasta dish. Of course, the basil—which has the ability to take a good recipe and make it better—doesn’t hurt, either. Cooked shrimp or chicken can be added to the pasta.


13 ounces broccoli florets with 1-inch stems (about 6 cups)

1 pound orecchiette

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving



The broccoli and orecchiette can be pre-cooked up to 4 hours ahead, cooled, covered separately, and refrigerated. Be sure to reserve the pasta water too. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook for about 2 minutes, or just until bright green. Using a mesh spoon or sieve, scoop the broccoli out of the water, draining it well, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

Return the water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t stick together, for about 8 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite. Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the orecchiette.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and stir for about 2 minutes, or until it has turned hazelnut brown. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute, or until hot.

Add the pasta to the broccoli mixture and stir gently to combine. Stir in the basil, pine nuts, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten the pasta as necessary.

Divide the pasta among four pasta bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.